Things to be thankful for outdoors

Happy Thanksgiving to all you outdoorswomen and men, even though the deer season was tough weather- and deer-wise. If you are not too tripped out on tryptophan, we will attempt to relate the reasons why we outdoor folks should be thankful for 2014.

Most important is that the Michigan legislature, in August, passed the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (SF&WCA). This gives the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) the ability to name game species, based on recommendations from DNR staff. It also provides $1 million for invasive aquatic species and gives free licenses for active duty military.

This scientific management is as it should be, with foresters, fish and wildlife biologists and ecologists making management recommendations, as these people have spent four to eight years studying their respective fields. They are very knowledgeable and chose resource management because of their love of the flora and fauna of Michigan. Together they meet to discuss and prescribe treatments on state lands, which benefit not only fish and game, but non-game species as well, from amphibians (frogs, salamanders, turtles, etc.) to warblers to endangered plant species. These meetings are open to the public.

Where do the dollars come from for this scientific management? Almost all of it comes from license dollars or the excise tax on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment. The excise tax, collected by the federal government, is redistributed back to the states, based on how many hunting and fishing licenses they sell. Very little comes from the state general fund, which is income, sales, etc. tax dollars.

Effective this year we saw an increase in our hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses. This was long overdue, as there had not been an increase in decades. This will allow more DNR staff to be hired and better the scientific management of our resources. Another thanks to our Governor and legislature for supporting resource management in Michigan.

On Nov. 4 we went to the voting booth, where there were two resource-related proposals. Prop 1 dealt with PA 520 of 2012, while Prop 2 was about PA 21 0f 2013. Both of these were referendums on whether these laws should be approved or repealed. A Yes vote would reaffirm the act, while a No vote was to repeal. Both of these proposals were brought forward by the Humane Society of the US, who ultimately wants to end all hunting, fishing and trapping nation-wide.

The No’s prevailed 55 percent to 45 percent on Prop 1. However, in the U.P., a whopping 72 percent of Yoopers voted Yes, which was in favor of science. Thank You Yoopers! Statewide, 64 percent of the counties voted YES, while almost half of the No votes came from the four southeast areas of Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne County. Although the No’s prevailed on both proposals, the SF&WCA passed in August, replaces them.

The outdoor sports of hunting, fishing, and trapping are big business in Michigan. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service periodically conducts a national survey of these activities, with 2011 being the latest. This survey is available online and has state by state and national figures. In 2011 Michigan 1.7 million anglers spent 28.2 million days fishing, which resulted in $2.4 billion being spent or $39 per day. A total of 529,000 Michigan hunters spent more than 11 million days afield, spending $2.34 billion or $25 per day. Combined, that is almost $5 billion and is an annual expenditure. Big business indeed! Annually, the Lake Michigan fishery, between the four bordering states, is worth $7 billion.

Not to worry about our Copper Country and the Upper Peninsula you say? Not true, as there are several groups here that are anti-hunting, fishing, and trapping and routinely close their lands to these activities acquired with the assistance of local public donations. Ask before you donate.

We need to manage with science, not emotion and protect our heritage. Emotion is usually not founded in fact.

Go Fish!